Water is of vital importance to the survival of California’s birds and the habitats that support them.
Snow Geese at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Scott Flaherty/USFWS
California in 2016 entered its fifth straight year of drought, and the ramifications for birds and people are considerable.
Water, of course, is fundamental to our lives, our communities, and our economy. Public policy around water allocations and usage is serious business. Water is also of vital importance to the survival of California’s birds and the habitats that support them. That’s why Audubon California has been at the forefront: advocating for birds during important policy discussions around the recent water bond, drought response, and water allocations to critical wildlife refuges.
The National Audubon Society new strategic plan creates an initiative around water that takes into account its growing importance in our organization’s ongoing efforts to safeguard birds. Nowhere is that focus more apparent than in California, where water is at the center of several important initiatives.
Below you will find links to the important work that Audubon California is doing around water and birds.
News emerged in late April of ongoing negotiations among representatives of California, Nevada, and Arizona about the use of water from the Colorado River, which is on the verge of a major shortage. While details of the negotiations aren't clear, the goal has been to keep more water in Lake Mead to stave off a declaration of a shortage.
The Pacific Institute's Peter Gleick pens a harsh opinion in the Los Angeles Times today about Congressional efforts to address California's drought:
"The federal government has a vital role to play in helping states address water problems: improving management of federal infrastructure, funding research of new technologies, setting standards for water-quality and appliance efficiency, as well as protecting the environment and marginalized communities. And yet none of those issues is the thrust of the two water bills now moving through the House and Senate. Instead, a California-centric bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein anda Western water bill sponsored by Rep. David Valadao both contain egregious, anti-environmental giveaways hidden behind modest provisions for modernizing California's water system."
It's worth a read.
American Rivers this week declared California's San Joaquin River the second most endangered river in the United States. “Dams, levees and excessive water diversions have hurt river habitat and opportunities for recreation and community access,” the report says. “The river’s salmon and steelhead populations are on the brink of extinction.” Audubon California has advocated for the restoration of the San Joaquin River for some time -- more about that on our website.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, California continues to experience drought. The consorsium of government agencies says that only a small part of the state -- 3.55 percent in the far northwest -- is not in drought. But 96 percent remains abnormally dry, with 90 percent in moderate, 74 percent in severe, 55 percent in extreme and 31 percent in exceptional drought.
Audubon California News comes to your email inbox every month with updates on our activities throughout the state, as well as other important conservation news.